Returning to wholeness

Women Returning to Wholeness

stress and anxiety relief

Do you limit how good you feel? Your first response may be “Of course not, why would I do that?”

Might it be possible that you do this unconsciously because this is what you were taught?

Sometimes what we have learned  becomes so much part of what we do and who we are that we don’t think about it. It is part of our “normal.”

For instance, I don’t imagine you spend a lot of time thinking about how you walk. You learned how to walk a long time Happiness coaching and stress and anxiety management Burnabyago and now you just get up and move. Most likely it would only be if you were in unfamiliar terrain, or if you had been injured and needed to relearn how to walk that you became more aware of your gait.

As a therapist who is passionate about supporting women return to wholeness, I am committed to  doing my own personal healing and growth work.  So it was an interesting process for me to ponder a question a colleague asked me the other day.

You see, I have been experiencing a “mysterious” pain in my body for the last few months. Doctors haven’t been able to figure out so far what is causing it. All we know  is that I am pretty healthy. All tests have come back negative. And yet, here I am, often feeling exhausted from being in pain at random times.

So when my friend casually threw out “Who would you be without this pain?” it made me pause and ponder. Well… life is pretty good. I love having family close by. I love the work I do. I love where I live. Every day my heart is filled with a long list of things that I am grateful for or that I appreciate.

So without the pain, I would have more energy and feel more expanded than I do. And that is where I had an “aha” moment.

how to heal trauma and cope with low self-esteem, counselling for women BurnabyPerhaps I am coming up against old speed limits. Growing up, the focus in my family was placed on performance, hard work, duty, doing one’s best. I was a pretty lively child and my grandparents who raised me were probably overwhelmed by all my energy. So I often heard “Don’t be so excited!” or “Settle down.” For various reasons my environment wasn’t very tolerant of my exuberance.

So I became quite a serious little girl. I learned to focus on doing it right. In fact that has become so much part of my nature, that a beloved partner once gave me the nickname “Ernestine.”

While there wasn’t a very high tolerance for fun and mischief, laughter and play or happiness in my family, there was a very high level of acceptance around anger, victimhood and the motto “life is hard.”

What were the emotional speed limits in your family of origin?

I invite you to take a moment and identify, on a scale of 1-10 your comfort level with

  • joy and happiness
  • feeling good about yourself
  • making mistakes
  • receiving gifts – receiving love
  • feeling and expressing excitement
  • feeling and expressing love and affection
  • anger
  • sorrow
  • pain
  • confusion

Of course we come from the place that our parents loved us. They did the best they could with who they were, what they had been taught and what was available to them at the time.

Sometimes you receive contrasting messages. Maybe the speed limit around feeling good about yourself was high in your family but changed when you went to church, or school or were with your peers.

Either way, you internalize how comfortable you are with feeling good and expanded, and it becomes your “normal.”

But your ability to feel happiness and love and joy is limitless. It is not something you have to work at – it is something you have to ALLOW.

The other day I was listening to Barbara De Angelis’s new book “A Choice for Love.” I love the mantra that she offers to help us shift  from the perception of limited well being to one of expansion and joy.

Positive Psychology and Somatic Psychotherapy for Women in Burnaby“I open myself to the presence of love within me.” 

What that implies of course is that the love, the joy, the good feelings are  already there.

Imagine a plant. Even though you may “train” that plant to grow a certain way to suit you and the environment you would like to enjoy it in, you cannot change its essence. You can do a lot to contain it’s growth and expansion, but once the restraints are removed and it is ALLOWED to grow freely it will find it’s own balance.

What “restraints” do you need to remove? What old thought patterns are you ready to let go of?  Where in your life would you like to expand beyond the limits you have internalized or that are being set for you?

Because remember, there is nothing you need do or change or fix. You are already good enough. All you need to do is  allow the good feelings to surface.

I invite you to take some time and explore these thoughts and questions in your journal.

And then stay tuned for Part 2 of “Expanding your levels of well-being” where we look at what might get in the way of this process and how to overcome your speed limits.

Nip Holiday Stress in the bud with these 3 Mantras Ideally the Holiday Season is a time of fun, celebration and connection. Unfortunately for many of us it becomes also a time of increased stress.

Before you continue reading, I’d like you to mentally or, even better, physically write down the three top stressors for you when you think about the time between now and Christmas.

 

Okay, now read them and check off which category they fall into:

Feeling overwhelmed – for example

  • having too much to do (and not enough time)
  • by the crowds and the busyness everywhere
  • relapsing into an addictive behaviour

Worrying about expectations – for example

  • disappointing others and/ or being disappointed
  • not doing it right
  • not being good enough
  • lack of harmony with family members

Money – for example

  • overspending
  • going into debt

Weight gain

  • Worrying about how to navigate your relationship with food and your body with all the extra parties and tantalizing food

Here are three mantras / mind shifts to help you manage and significantly reduce  stress not only over the next few weeks but in general.

  1. I will not abandon myself when I most need my own supportHow to Manage anxiety and stress during the Holidays

It is so easy, and often an ingrained habit and what were taught as women, to put  our own needs at the bottom of the list. Every time you do something that you think you should, you’re most likely abandoning yourself. 

Every time you’re saying yes when you want to say no, you’re abandoning yourself. Especially during the holidays, if it’s not fun don’t do it. 

A good way to identify whether you’re caught up in a “should” is to stop and check in with your body. Typically when you’re honoring your own needs, when you’re trusting your inner voice, your body will feel more open and relaxed. When you’re doing something because you think you “should” your body will be contracted or tense in some way, you’re probably attached to the outcome, and you’re somehow trying to convince yourself that this is a good thing.  Whenever you’re caught up in a “should” there’s some sort of expectation attached to it. Which leads us to the second mantra or mind shift.

2) I am not responsible for nor do I have the power or control over other people’s thoughts and feelings

When you’re worrying about disappointing others, not meeting expectations and trying to avoid Let go of co-dependent behavior conflict, you’re typically caught up in the myth that somehow you can control the outcome.

But you have to remember that people are going to have their own thoughts and interpretations, independently of what you do. We all choose the thoughts we think and nobody can control that.

We’re all responding to a story we’re creating in our mind based on something that happened in the past or that we anticipate in the future.

If you can truly accept that you can only do your best, while coming from a place of love and you let go of the outcome, you will be able to shift  into a lot more spaciousness in your life.

3) This is not a crisis 

Most of the things that we get stressed out about are not a crisis.

If you stay in the present moment only moment, and take a deep breath and reframe, most likely Stress and anxiety management for womennothing terrible is happening right now.

All the things you’re getting stressed out about are happening in the future and in your mind.

If you are going to honor your budget and buy less expensive gifts for others and for some reason they interpret that as a lack of love on your behalf, that is a choice and a consequence you have no control over.

If you’re stuck in traffic or in a lineup and you’re freaking out about your to do list and the time schedule, most likely many of the things on your list are not essential to life and survival. Less is more 🙂 Take a breath and use the time creatively. Listen to an audiobook, call a friend…

If you do allow yourself to indulge in dessert and you gain 3 pounds, trust your body and trust that you will self regulate especially if you’re learning to listen to your body. (email info@goddessrevealed.ca me for a free set of eating guidelines that will help you thru the holidays)

When stress sets in we tend to do upper chest and shallow breathing. So instead of getting caught up in the stress and putting yourself last, increase your level of self-care. Take mindfulness breaks during the day that nurture you. Make a point of regularly taking five big breaths into your belly to get grounded and reconnect to yourself and the present moment.

Repeat the three mantras to yourself as often as needed and remember that you are not alone, we are all connected to Source energy and the Divine. Focus on having positive thoughts and trust that everything is always working out for you.

I wish you serene and stress-free Holidays.

Has the idea of sex with your boyfriend or partner lost its luster? Are you wondering if there is something wrong or you need help with your libido because North Vancouver Intimacy counsellor and sex therapist can helpyour sexual attraction to him has waned?

As a sex therapist who specializes in counselling for women and relationship therapy, I sometimes hear women wonder why they don’t find their partner that sexy anymore. Upon further discussion we often identify that over time, the power dynamic in the relationship has had significant impact on the sexual attraction factor.

5 questions to help you identify if the “power dynamic” in your relationship is the underlying cause for decreased desire:

  1. Has your partner come to rely on you to make all the decisions at home – from what meals you’re going to eat to what type of new clothes he needs to buy?
  2. Are you doing all the “housework” while he is enjoying screen time (such as video gaming) and then you call him for dinner?
  3. Are you always “reminding” him to pick up his laundry, help with the dishes, contribute around the house?
  4. Is he willing to contribute with chores but always waits until you tell him what and how things need to get done?
  5. Do you take care of his personal belongings by tidying them up, fixing them, finding them for him ecc?

Burnaby Sex therapy for women can helpIf you have answered yes to at least 3 of the above questions, you are no doubt a very supportive partner. And while that is lovely, there is a fine line between being supportive and care taking. Ask yourself – do you sometimes feel like you are taking care or “mothering” a child or teenager? Does your partner’s behavior make you smile but also irritate you on some level because secretly you wish “he would grow up”?

There is nothing sexy about mothering your boyfriend or spouse. It creates learned helplessness. It breeds resentment that slowly grows over time. It often sets up an “unwritten” contract between the two of you which backfires. Because rather than loving you and making you feel special and courting you, most likely your partner has accused you of nagging all the time. He feels frustrated because he can’t figure out what he is doing wrong. After all – you only need to tell him what to do and he will eventually do it.

And you feel frustrated because he is not taking the initiative. He is not acting like an independent, strong man who can take care of himself. (of course he can…but your loving support is dialing the clock backwards). Some women start feeling like the “house slave” and that doesn’t feel very sexy either, right?

If any of the above resonates with you, I invite you to become very clear on what your part is in this dynamic. And then talk to your partner. Share your experience – rather than fingerpointing at all the things he is or isn’t doing. Talk about how you feel and what you value or desire. Discuss together how you can shift out of the particular flavor of the role you have stepped into. Focus on your shared goal of wanting to find each other sexy and attractive and what a fulfilling sexual connection would look like for each one of you.

Depression and anxiety therapy can increase your sense of joyPractical steps for increasing your Happiness quotient.

In part 1 of how to increase your Happiness quotient, I talked about the importance of increasing the average of positive thoughts and verbal expressions in order to achieve a ratio of at least 3:1. Incidentally, if you’d like to test your happiness quotient, try this online quiz to give you an idea of how happy you tend to be in everyday life.

So how can you shift from negativity to YES?

 

Step one: Become mindful of your thoughts, your verbal expressions and what you tend to focus your energy on.

Mindful thinking could be compared to meditation. When you meditate and try to quiet the mind, you  most likely notice how your mind drifts off before you bring it back to your breath or some other point of focus. Maintaining a steady awareness of negative self-talk, judgments, defeatist thinking and negative verbiage means raising your level of consciousness and presence with yourself and your mental and emotional state. You could compare this process to being the Quality Control supervisor at a chocolate factory (or any other merchandise) where you are observing the chocolates traveling on a conveyer belt past your vigilant gaze before being packaged. It is your job to pick out and remove any chocolate that is dented, broken, moldy or not up to the highest standards of satisfaction before they are packaged and shipped.   You can create an awareness of your thoughts and language in similar fashion. Outgoing and Incoming images, ideas and thoughts are examined and eliminated or replaced if found to be negative.

Step two: Translate -ve thoughts

Burnaby counselling help for depressionOnce you have identified the negative thoughts and expressions, translate them into positive expressions and affirmations.   Remember that your unconscious mind cannot differentiate between the present or the future. It also doesn’t hear “not.” Example: I don’t want to smoke to cope with stress.  – your mind hears what you want …so I don’t want to smoke is translated into “I want to smoke”…   Affirmations need to be formulated in the present tense. A good way to create positive affirmations is to start with a list of negative thoughts. Take a moment and write down some of the more common and repetitive negative thoughts, ideas and judgments that are on “autoplay” in your head. List these thoughts on the left hand side of a page… think about choosing YES, and replace them with an affirmation that starts with YES on the right side. Here are some examples:

I am never going to lose weight. C H O O S E   Y E S Yes I can! I can influence my body weight thru healthy food choices and exercise.
I feel so guilty, I’m a terrible parent. Yes I am! I forgive myself for the mistakes I make and appreciate that I try to be the best parent I can be.
I hate rain. It’s going to be another crappy day. Yes I do! I appreciate all the good things in this day and focus on being positive.
Nobody ever helps me around here. I always have to do everything. Yes I can! I can ask for help and delegate tasks. I deserve to take breaks and have energy left at the end of the day.

Of course it takes practice and regular effort to slowly shift from negative to YES. 

Step three: Shift your focus in the world.

You have heard about the glass being half empty or half full. Remember that you choose the thoughts you think. You also choose the lens and filter thru which you experience the world. You can either focus on the silver lining, the benefits, the things you can be grateful for… or you can get stuck in seeing everything thru the grey lens of disappointment and disgruntlement.

Step four: Think about the purpose of your negative thought habits

North Vancouver counselling therapy for depression and stress reliefIf you are finding it difficult to implement mindfulness and to shift to YES, ask yourself what would change in your life if you practiced a more positive mindset. What would happen if you lived your life with more joy and contentment?   Sometimes we develop patterns because that is what we were taught. Often we maintain patterns because they represent some sort of security for us.

If you think back to your family of origin… what would you say was the “speed limit” for happiness in your family? Were your parents optimistic, joyful and content? Or was your mother a bit of a martyr or your father often angry? Perhaps you grew up with the chaos of addiction or the low vibrational energy of depression and anxiety. Perhaps your family had an intergenerational belief that life is about hard work and happiness was not the purpose of life. Maybe religion played a role in what you were taught or witnessed and feeling too good about yourself or life meant that you were straying of the righteous path of obedience and sacrifice. As you examine the beliefs about joy and happiness of your childhood and how they are still affecting you today, remember that you can make different choices at any given moment.

If you are finding it difficult to sustain joy and positive energy in your mind and body, if you need help to cope with depression Get help for depression and anxiety with Burnaby certified Body psychotherapistand anxiety, consider working with a counsellor such as myself who has a somatic (body-mind) approach. Integrative Body Psychotherapy  can help you repattern your thoughts and release negative holding patterns in your body. Hypnotherapy, EMDT or EFT are all useful tools to help you overcome depression and anxiety and shift from no to YES so you can raise your Happiness Quotient.

Do you want to raise your Happiness Quotient? North Vancouver counselling for women offers positive psychology therapy

Some of my clients seek counselling help for anxiety or depression because they have realized that they struggle sustaining a feeling of joy, well-being and happiness in their mind and body.
On a daily basis, all of us deal with a number of challenges which can start conversations either in our head or with others. Stop for a moment and think – if, without you being aware, someone recorded an hour of your internal dialogue or 3 random conversations you had with friends…what would this verbiage sound like?

counselling for low self esteem can shift your negative thinkingDo you think it would have repetitive snippets that sounded like this:

Why is my belly so fat today, I’m never going to meet that deadline, there goes money, I never have enough money, I hate this job, why is traffic so slow, I can’t stand him/her, no matter what I do – it’s never enough, there is just no pleasing people, I’m so tired, this is boring, omg what if…., I still can’t get over the fact that…, it’s probably not going to work out, I don’t know why I even bother, another rainy day grrr, nobody cares anyways, why does s/he keep doing this to me, things will never change….

We live in a society where negativity is an accepted part of our day. When you talk to your friends you might spend a good part of the conversation “venting” about something negative. When you turn on any media device and listen to the news… 95% of the content is negative.

Is it any wonder if you struggle sustaining a feeling of joy, well-being and happiness in your mind and body? If we live immersed in negativity, is it any wonder that a large percentage of our population turns to mind numbing activities like surfing the internet, video gaming, pot smoking, drinking or eating to get some relief?

But with a few adjustments it is possible to shift this anxiety provoking, stressful and depressing energy and raise your happiness quotient.

All you have to do is say YES! instead of no.Burnaby counselling for depression and anxiety
Say: YES, I can! Yes, I have! Yes, I AM!!

Research has shown, that the word NO and the negative thoughts associated with the state of NO interrupt the healthy functioning of your brain. Negativity affects memory, reason, language and communication. In fact it has such a strong impact on our entire organism that it can disrupt sleep and appetite as well as your ability to experience long- term happiness and satisfaction. Negative thinking is self-perpetuating… the more you do it the more difficult it becomes to shift that energy.

relief from anxiety and stress with anxiety counselling BurnabyNegative thoughts that provoke fear and anxiety stimulate your brain to release stress hormones. Reverse this downward spiral, with saying YES.
But since “yes”, is not a word that evokes threat or danger, initially our brain has a very neutral response. Barbara Fredrickson, one of the founders of Positive Psychology, discovered that we need to generate at least 3 positive thoughts and feelings for each expression of negativity.
If you are unable to retain a consistent ratio of 3:1 of positive expression vs. negativity, you will soon notice the impact on your personal and business relationships. This supports the findings of John Gottman’s research with married couples.

What do you think you need to do to shift from no to YES in your thoughts, words and actions? Stay tuned for Part 2 of how to increase your HQ where I discuss the specific steps that will take you from no to YES.

You might be tempted to do so  if you happen to watch the latest Nabisco Cookie commercial for the “Chips Ahoy Chewy Gooey Cookies”  because… “they are crammed with joy.” In my counselling practice for women, I specialize helping clients overcome emotional eating and address the root causes of depression.

Burnaby counselling for women helps you stop emotional eatingIn these times of stress many individuals struggle with increased depression and anxiety. As you may know, when you’re depressed, your serotonin levels are low. Low serotonin levels in turn trigger cravings for refined carbohydrates like cookies or chocolate.

When advertising helps instill the belief that a cookie is “crammed with joy” is it any wonder that the rate of emotional eating related weight gain is also on the rise?

Let’s not forget that children watch TV as well.
(The cookie commercial is geared towards children)  Between the age of 4 to 10, children develop  their ability to think. How many of us think to point out to a 6 year old that a cookie is actually not crammed with joy? To the average adult it is just advertising that we tune out. But somewhere in our brain and somewhere in the developing brain of our children this message gets logged.

So let me repeat my earlier question. Is it any wonder that emotional eating, Food Addiction and obesity are on the rise?

If we take another look at the connection between serotonin levels and cravings we also need to remember that low serotonin levels affect how you feel about yourself. Anyone who has ever felt depressed will recall that they weren’t exactly bursting with self-esteem at the time.

One of the most common grievances accompanying low self-esteem that clients share with me is their fear of weight gain and feeling too fat.

It is a dilemma. Sugar does raise serotonin levels momentarily, so it would appear that the Chips Ahoy Chewy Gooey cookies are indeed “crammed with joy”.

Personally I think I would like the ad better if it ended with one of those rapid monotonous voices we recognize from drug commercials which could say “Some side effects may apply. Eat with caution when depressed. The intense flavor may trigger binge eating, overeating or continuous grazing until the box is empty. After effects may include and are not restricted to weight gain, self-loathing, feelings of powerlessness”.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with Chewy Gooey cookies. As I always say to my clients:
There are no forbidden foods as long as you eat mindfully. So the next time you have a cookie, do enjoy and savor the smooth creamy fudge in the middle.

Then consciously take a breath, connect with your body and check in to see if you really want another cookie. Perhaps you do. If you find yourself eating  more than a whole handful, ask yourself what you are really hungry for in this moment.

Get help for depression and anxiety with Burnaby counsellingIt may well be that you are looking for a little bit of joy. And that is ok. But remember that you can make a choice. You can eat more cookies, or take another breath, put down the cookies and take a moment to remember what else gives you joy. Maybe you like to hug your pet, kiss your child, play a game, do some gardening…

Now check in again with your body. What is truly going to meet your need for joy in this moment?

No matter what choice you end up making, be present with yourself and give yourself permission to truly savor the moment and your chosen activity.